My favorite stories to read when I was a child were about the saints. The BVM sisters who taught me tried to encourage me to read other books, but if there was a book about a saint I hadn’t read, I was drawn to it. The saints were real people with real life problems who took the high road, who resolved their life issues in a loving, faithful way. I wanted to know what their challenges were and how they overcame them.
I still enjoy reading biographies and writing about dynamic, positive people. I write a blog (saint-theodora.com) on Saint Theodora, also known as Mother Theodore Guerin, and I wrote a book about how to follow her example, Seven Principles of Sainthood.
Now I also have a children’s book about her, Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God. The Story of Mother Theodore Guerin. Illustrated by Phil Veikan, this new book tells the life of this saint and how she identified God’s calling for her.
I’m interested in Saint Theodora for several reasons. This woman lived and worked in the Midwest. She founded elementary schools across Illinois and Indiana in the mid-1800s. She also founded the religious order, the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana and a school for the higher education of women, which is now Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, the school where I received my Master’s degree. I also attended the canonization of Saint Theodora by Pope Benedict in 2006. And let me tell you, it’s pretty exciting to be in Saint Peter’s Square with hundreds of thousands of people and hear someone you admire being named a saint.
I want to tell the world about Saint Theodora because she was so – real. She experienced some tremendous challenges. When she was 15 years-old, her father was murdered, which prompted her mother to have a nervous breakdown. As a young teenager Saint Theodora was left to care for her mother and sister.
And Saint Theodora had her own health issues to endure. She had a terrible illness, probably smallpox, when she first entered the convent. The “cure” damaged her intestines and left her in fragile health and unable to eat solid food the rest of her life. She experienced long periods of time when she was bedridden.
In spite of her physical fragility, she remained spiritually strong. She leaned on God and took on some major undertakings. She journeyed from France across the Atlantic and the U.S. to the wilderness of 1800s Indiana to promote faith and education. There, she endured drastic fluctuations of weather and nature, difficult and unsupportive superiors, and prejudice. She met her challenges head on, trusting that when you follow God’s call you are well supported.
The children’s book, Saint Theodora and Her Promise to God. The Story of Mother Theodore Guerin tells some of this story in a light, entertaining way. Published by the Sisters of Providence, the hardcover book is 34 pages long, and lists for $16.99 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Saint-Theodora-Her-Promise-God/dp/0989739708/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386348419&sr=1-1&keywords=saint+theodora)
©2013, Mary K. Doyle